While trading doesn't require social contact, there are aspects to it that could impact immunity negatively. We take a look at three ways for you to improve your immune system and ensure your trading habits help you stay healthy. And the same tricks will help you establish a solid mindset that leads to consistent trading performance too. Read on to learn more.
The relationship between the immune system and other body systems
Trading is fundamentally a socially-distanced activity, whether for traders operating from home or those in an office who face their screens more than talking face-to-face with their colleagues. It's good that being squashed together in an open outcry trading pit is a thing of the analogue past!
However, there are still steps that the trading community can take to fine-tune an optimum immune response. For the most part, this is about prompting the parasympathetic - rest and digest - nervous system to fire rather than the fight, flight and freeze - stress - response (the sympathetic nervous system). Many people leading western lifestyles are in a permanent state of fight or flight without knowing it. Our tips in this blog will outline how you can improve your immune system.
Just like the news, currencies, commodities, it's an interlinked system
‘The immune system is only one of the body systems. For us to maintain a healthy immune system response, we need to look after ourselves as a whole person,' says Vee Maksimova, nutritional therapist and founder of The Plant-Powered Kitchen.
Vee gives us an idea of why building a healthy digestive system will help the nervous system and enable you to improve your immune system:
‘80% of our immune cells live in our gut,' she says. 'Therefore, having a healthy digestion system helps us have a healthy immune system.'
‘It's the same with the nervous system. 90% of serotonin, the hormone of happiness, is actually found in our digestive tract,' Vee continues. 'If we have a healthy digestive system, we have a healthy nervous system, which leads to a healthy immune system and so on.'
Health tips for traders to improve your immune system
1. Address sleep deprivation to improve trading decisions
It may be that trading overnight or getting up early is part of your trading strategy. If so, you also need a plan for how to offset the impact that this is having on your overall health.
The harmful effects of shift work on health and longevity are well documented - here are two examples:
We know that people make better decisions and have better cognition when they’re rested. And the same goes for traders. So, it follows that sleep deprivation impacts immunity. For instance, a 2002 study found that sleep-deprived people were less than half as likely to have a successful response to a flu vaccination than their rested counterparts.
While you might not want to give up your overnight trading or early morning starts, you can still mitigate these working hours and improve your immune system. Here are some action points.
Trader action points to address sleep deprivation:
- Help your body clock by eating at roughly the same times each day.
- Adjust the size of your meals and your caffeine intake if working through the night.
- If possible, sleep regular hours (even if it's not at night time), rather than switching between working days, evenings and nights.
- Ensure your bedroom is adequately dark and not too hot - essential for good sleep.
- Have pre-sleep and waking-up routines to help you sleep deeply and be grounded and centred throughout your day. Avoid using digital devices 30 minutes before bed or after waking up.
- If your sleep is often disrupted, consider getting professional guidance on supplements to correct any chemical/nutrient deficiencies that have built up as a result.
2. Take a ‘Digital Detox’ for better digestion
Trading requires digital stimulation, but too much can be detrimental. To counteract that, regularly switching off and unplugging is good for your mental and physical health.
It's also crucial for your digestion, as Vee Maksimova explains: 'If your brain is engaged with things other than your food, you're putting yourself in fight or flight mode. This reduces the amount of saliva you produce while you chew. Thus your food won't be digested properly.'
As well as mindfully eating your food, be mindful of what kind of food it is too. Consuming synthetically produced food and drink products makes it harder for your immune system to function well, so try to alter your diet as well as your digital habits to improve your immune system.
Trader action points for a Digital Detox:
- Build a habit of putting your phone down and stepping away from your desk to eat.
- Be deliberate about being in rest and digest mode when you eat. Concentrate on your food and think about its flavours and texture.
- Chew your food thoroughly before swallowing - digestion starts in the mouth.
3. Put a stop loss in place for stress and anxiety
Yes, we've all heard it - stress represses the immunity, but reducing stress is essential for improving your immune system.
Are you calm and collected as a trader? Are your leisure, rest and emotional needs met in a balanced way? No? Depending on the time frames you trade, your temperament and your trading and lifestyle habits, trading might be causing you to live in a constant state of heightened adrenaline. This leads to burnout. Sound familiar? Don’t worry - you’re not alone.
Many of us are in this state of heightened adrenaline. A system that was originally in place to help us run from animal predators is now left continuously in the 'on' position. And this depletes immunity.
Luckily, counteracting this is easy. It's all about taking short sips of calm stillness throughout the day - particularly important when we’re in a flow state ('in the zone with work') and overlook the basics, like eating, hydrating and pausing.
Fifteen second-exercises done regularly can yield big results. Whereas an unchecked stress response can lead to a host of health and happiness problems, we can start to accumulate some rest and digest moments. This helps the nervous system reset and build a habit of remaining calm - another way to improve your immune system.
Trader action points reducing stress:
- Decide how you’re going to remember to take reset breaks. It might be using a timer, or when you use the bathroom - whatever works for you.
- Start with a quick scan of where tension is accumulating in your body. Consciously relax those muscles more. Pay attention to the area around the eyes, jaw and shoulders.
- Take a round of three deep breaths in and out, making sure they come from the belly. Be careful if you’re asthmatic and always respect your limits. Bring an attitude of curiosity to what you observe.
- [Optional exercise] Bring to mind a word or image that conjures up calm to you - or have something to hand that you can smell - that shifts your state to feeling lighter and more carefree.
Summary: Reassess your trading habits and improve your immunity
We hope this blog post has alerted you to the need to reassess your daily habits and approach to trading, to improve your immune system. Many traders work on autopilot and even think that pushing themselves to the limit is part and parcel of the job, to achieve optimum results. But as we’ve outlined, a healthy immune system is the foundation for better trading performance.
Try out some of these action points to improve your immunity, to address stress, the reliance on digital devices and sleep deprivation, and see how you start to reap the benefits. By improving your immune system, you have a better chance of boosting your performance in the markets.
If you’d like to learn more about optimising trading performance, check out our recent blog about the importance of adding rules to your trading approach. The Wyckoff VSA method and our SMART Technology for traders help you trade with more confidence and consistency, thanks to rules-based trading strategies.
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